The US Congress should take steps on selling F-16s and upgrade kits simultaneously with Türkiye, so all sides can take the remaining steps needed at the same time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday on Sweden's NATO accession bid.
"If the U.S. has a Congress, we also have our parliament. There’s nothing to say (on Sweden’s NATO bid) until a final decision comes from our parliament,” Erdogan told journalists on his return flight from a two-day visit to Qatar. All current NATO members must ratify any countries joining the alliance.
Saying that he fulfilled his job by sending Sweden’s NATO protocol to the Turkish parliament in October, Erdogan added that he expects something from his counterparts.
"Simultaneously, pass this (F-16 sale) through your Congress on this issue, and let's take these steps together at the same time."
Erdogan signed Sweden's NATO accession protocol and submitted it to parliament on Oct. 23. On Nov. 16, parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee postponed consideration of the protocol.
To join the alliance, which Sweden sought after Russia attacked nearby Ukraine, Stockholm has to have the approval of all current NATO members, including Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, and the owner of its second-largest army, after the US.
Türkiye has been pushing Swedish authorities to take concrete steps to alleviate Ankara's security concerns, especially regarding support for the PKK terrorist organization, a group whose decades-long attacks on Türkiye have taken some 40,000 lives.
Türkiye is seeking to purchase from the US the latest model F-16 Block 70 aircraft, as well as 79 modernization kits to upgrade its remaining F-16s to Block 70 level.